K-12 Teaching and Learning From the UNC School of Education

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Learning outcomes

Students will:

  • demonstrate an understanding of a narrative story by participating in listening, speaking, reading, and writing activities.
  • create two visual products that reflect the understanding of events, vocabulary, and characters.
  • create personal responses to the story by writing a poem in two languages.

Teacher planning

Time required for lesson

5 days


  • The Big Balloon Race by Eleanor Coerr
  • 11×14 white paper (one per student)
  • 3-foot lengths of bulletin board paper in all colors (2 per student)
  • 12-14″ lengths of yarn or string (4 per student)
  • clean, empty milk cartons (1 per student team)
  • brown bulletin board paper (to cover milk carton)
  • balloon pattern for poem
  • sentence strips for poem
  • old newspapers for stuffing balloons
  • glue/stapler
  • chapter chart assessment
  • poem assessment


Students will review or learn vocabulary for family members, colors, animal names, prepositions of location, simple weather terms, basic landforms and geographical terms, compass directions, and landforms.

This lesson ideally would be used as a way to follow up and reinforce the teaching of subject pronouns and present progressive verbs.


  1. Picture walk through of The Big Balloon Race. Students will identify some of the prior vocabulary as pictures are shown.
  2. Teach essential vocabulary for Chapter 1 (balloon, aeronaut, buggy, race, hydrogen gas, flight, basket). Put words with pictures on board or overhead.
  3. Read Chapter 1, discuss, and re-read. Include on the essential vocabulary list new character names, key event words.
  4. Have students retell story orally.
  5. Teacher paraphrases for accuracy/clarity or writes student retelling on overhead or board.
  6. Students read orally, essential vocabulary is underlined. This is done several times for fluency.
  7. Students will make a chapter chart by taking an 11×14 white paper and folding it half, in half again, and in half again so there are eight sections when the paper is laid out flat.
  8. In the first block students will put the title, in the second block students will put the author’s name.
  9. In the third block students will copy the student-based retelling of chapter one. In the fourth block, students will draw a picture that illustrates an event in chapter one.
  10. This process will continue until chapters two and three are complete with student based retelling and pictures. (Essential vocabulary for chapter two: stowaway, basket. Chapter three: fly.)
  11. Students will use essential vocabulary and other student-generated vocabulary along with the balloon pattern worksheet to create a poem on hot air balloons. Teachers may model an example on the overhead. An example would be:
    “Hot air balloons
    Full of color
    Flying high
    It’s very exciting”
  12. Students will write with a partner their own version of a hot air balloon poem.
  13. Students will use a bilingual dictionary to check spelling and to write the poem in their first language.
  14. Edited poems are then rewritten on a sentence strip. Words can be written individually or can be grouped by lines.
  15. Students are then given two large (3×4 feet) sheets of bulletin board paper to draw an outline of their own hot air balloon. Students will trace and cut two balloon shapes. (These sheets will become the 3-D balloon.)
  16. Students will glue their sentence strip poem on the front side of their balloon.
  17. Students will staple or glue the edges and stuff the balloon by the bottom opening of the balloon. (This is the bottom opening over the basket.)
  18. Students now cover the empty milk carton (with the open top folded down or cut) with the brown paper to form a basket.
  19. The yarn or string is now stapled to the hot air balloon and the basket.
  20. Once the project is complete, partners can now share and read the poems to other class members in English and in the first language.
  21. Balloons can “fly high” in the classroom by hanging from the ceiling or on a clothesline.


  • Cloze paragraphs on chapter summaries for daily warm-ups.
  • Sequence the chapter events by numbering and having students recopy the correct story order.
  • Copy the student-generated chapter summaries and have them substitute subject pronouns for the nouns in the writing.
  • Rewite chapter one and two. Have students write/tell the predicted outcome for the story.
  • Teacher-generated content questions and vocabulary match.
  • Attached rubrics for projects.

Supplemental information

To enhance this lesson teachers could use the following books:

  • Hot Air Henry by Mary Calhoun
  • Curious George and the Hot Air Balloon by Margaret Rey, HA Rey
  • Cinderella and the Hot Air Balloon by Ann Jungman, Russell Ayto

Alternative assessments

  • cloze activities: teacher-created using student generated text in the chapter chart

Critical vocabulary

aeronaut, hot air balloon, hydrogen gas, basket, race, stowaway, fly, buggy


This is an overall description of a novice high student: Students at novice high proficiency are beginning to understand language and use it it a limited capacity. Typically, they memorize words and phrases and can comprehend and utilize language that they have been taught.

This lesson plan was developed during the English Language Development Standard Course of Study lesson planning institutes hosted by the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction and LEARN NC, June and July, 2004. It includes specific strategies, instructional modifications, and alternative assessments which make this lesson accessible to limited English proficient students. Please note that this lesson has been aligned with the goals and objectives of the N.C. English Language Development standards.

North Carolina curriculum alignment

English Language Development (2005)

  • Objective 0.01: Read some words by sight with the use of a bilingual dictionary (e.g., common words, own name, environmental print like signs, labels and trademarks).
  • Objective 0.01: Write and spell high frequency words and short sentences.
  • Objective 0.03: Begin making connections on informational material on familiar topics with assistance.
  • Objective 0.03: Write a simple personal narrative with assistance.
  • Objective 0.04: Respond to simple questions on familiar topics using short phrases and yes/no answers.
  • Objective 0.04: Use a graphic organizer to enhance the writing process with assistance.
  • Objective 0.05: Read and understand simple, familiar, and sequential text with visual support and teacher assistance.
  • Objective 0.05: Organize and write sentences in sequential order with assistance.
  • Objective 0.06: Begin to produce informational materials such as brochures, postcards or book jackets using a variety of sources.
  • Objective 0.07: Begin to use present, present progressive, and simple past in simple sentences (e.g., verb + ing, verb + ed).
  • Objective 0.09: Use a bilingual dictionary to aid writing.